I am, I admit, absolutely fascinated by MySpace.
Not as a user. I don't network there, or have a profile. I don't post pictures, or send silly cartoon greeting cards to hosts of "friends" I'm connected to. And I certainly don't log on, and spend hours searching for people I might know, or even worse, for people I'd like to get to know (under any context).
So, let me rephrase my comment: I am, I admit, absolutely fascinated by people who are members of the MySpace community. Let me say this: there is a fine line, I think, between "social" drinking and alcoholism. So is there a fine line between healthy MySpace usage, and unhealthy usage.
Now, don't go away just yet. I can tell that some of you are already jumping to conclusions. Don't. I promise you-I'm not going to spout the same tired argument about thirty-eight year-old, pot-bellied guys sitting in their sweaty briefs in their dark living room, surrounded by crumpled Dorito's bags, empty Ben-and-Jerry's Cherry Garcia tubs, and crushed red bull cans, logged onto MySpace under the name "Amber," looking to "make friends" with other 14-year-old girls. No. The solution to that problem is pretty easy: parents-be parents! Mom, Dad: pay attention! Find out who Susy is really talking to online, and control it!
No, that's not what interests me. What I'm truly fascinated by is what this obsessive additiction to MySpace really says about an individual.
I've watched-particularly in the past few weeks, and these are my observations.
First, what is MySpace used for? Networking, they say. I'm honestly not exactly sure what that means. Most "normal" folks aren't out there meeting new people on MySpace-for the reason described above, to be quite honest. Most are paranoid to "add" anyone they don't already know. So, my guess is that very little "meeting" of people is done on MySpace. For the most part, people add other people who they already know, or used to know. Which, as best I can tell, allows them to feel ok about ignoring those folks in "real life", as long as they "check-in" every once in a while on MySpace. Interesting don't you think?
And then there are those that love MySpace because it's the only venue where they feel they can actually "be themself." And these-these are the ones whom I truly feel sorry for. Consider this:
"About Me: My name is Bethany. I'm an 18 year old, straight, non-smoking, non-drinking, single female. I just graduated high school and am going to start college in the fall. My friends say I'm cute. I like to hang-out with my friends. Music: I like music. Books: I LOVE to read! I'm Here For: I'm here looking for friendship. People I'd Like to Meet: the older guy from Hanson and the perfect man!"
Now, don't jump on MySpace and start searching for Bethany. I don't think she exists. These are just some of the things that I've seen on various profiles (well, except for the part about wanting to meet the guy from Hanson; does anyone even remember Hanson?). The point though is that this is, in my opinion, the potrait of a very shallow person. Please, MySpace users: don't take this personally! But this says absolutely nothing about you as a person! And if this is where you can "be yourself" then yourself is not someone who I'd like to meet! You have to know a person to know the person. And you can't do that on some page that exists out in cyberspace somewhere.
But the saddest ones, I think, are the ones whose self-worth is a reflection of their MySpace network of friends. The ones who live to be "added" as a friend; the ones who fly high for three straight days when they get moved up in the pecking order that is the "My Friends" heirarchy; the ones who live to see another tick added to their visit counter; the ones who obsessively check their profile, hungry for new bulletins or messages from some friend, somewhere-"Hey. Wassup?"
These ones-they have no grasp on reality, I don't think. They live in a virtual world, with virtual pseudo-friends, who, I can only guess, are equally entrenched in this unreal land of ridiculous names and cheeky quotes that are supposed to mean something, but are typically so obscure as to be utterly meaningless to anyone who's not in on the joke. These ones I feel sorry for.
But, I fear that the phenomenon has gone too far. Everyone has a MySpace! Search around on there a bit! Grandmothers, bikers, teenagers, even a parakeet name Blitzer (very strange, I've gotta say).
What to do, though? I don't know that there is much that can be done. At times I fear that we'll ultimately become a society that's incapable of functioning unless we're behind a computer monitor in some virtual world. Another example of progressive technology rushing us right into the dark ages.
But, I'll do my part. I'll not partake. And maybe-just maybe, it'll catch on. One here and one there will get tired of living shallow, digital life, and will re-emerge, blinking, rubbing their eyes, into the bright sunlight of this, the real world, amazed that there is such depth out there! That's what I hope for!